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Prisoners at HMP Thameside get access to new healthy living newsletter

It goes without saying that the physical and mental wellbeing of an individual is a crucial factor in thriving in the world.

For prisoners hoping to reintegrate back into society, health and wellbeing is paramount.

HMP Thameside has recently introduced “His Wellbeing”, an innovative and brand-new newsletter for prisoners which provides useful and practical advice to improve both physical and mental wellbeing. The newsletter is edited and published by UK national charity, Food Matters. 

We interviewed Isadora Hutcheson-Lovett, Team Support Officer at Food Matters about the newsletter and how it came about.

What is His Wellbeing and what it provides for prisoners?

His Wellbeing is a newsletter that aims to help men in prison to improve their physical and mental health through food and other lifestyle interventions. Our pilot issue includes educational content about food and nutrition, recipe ideas and tips (using ingredients and equipment that are available to them) and a guest-written article on Yoga and mindfulness from the Prison Yoga Project.

We encourage readers to write to us at our Freepost address, so that we can receive feedback. Readers of our sister newsletter, Her Wellbeing, have provided us with great insight into their facilities and needs, helping us to keep each issue relevant and useful to the readership. We believe the participation and contributions from readers have been key to the newsletter’s success.

How do prisoners at Thameside get access to the newsletter?

The His Wellbeing pilot issue was available on the Custodial Management System or CMS for short (the online prisoner account system present in Serco managed prisons) for men to read. We will be submitting a new issue to be released on the CMS in the next month.

How did the idea for this magazine come about?

Food Matters started writing Her Wellbeing for the women’s estate in 2020 following the first lockdown. We were due to go into women’s prisons to run face to face sessions on food and wellbeing, which was unfortunately no longer possible due to rigid COVID restrictions. Given the already high rates of mental health issues in women’s prisons, we wanted to find a way to make a positive impact remotely, and so Her Wellbeing was born. We started off distributing the newsletter in one prison, but it quickly gained popularity and is now distributed to every woman serving a custodial sentence in the UK.

With the success of Her Wellbeing, we were keen to get started on a newsletter for the men’s estate. We created the pilot issue of His Wellbeing with the men’s prison environment and common topics of interest in mind, drawing from our past experience in face-to-face workshops.

Are there any planned future developments for the magazine?

We are currently working on a second issue of His Wellbeing, which will feature a winter walking meditation, an article on friluftsliv – the Scandinavian concept of making the most of being outdoors whatever the weather, and a piece on the importance of vitamin D – how to get enough during the winter months.

Initial feedback from the pilot issue has shown that men at Thameside are keen for more information around mental health, so we think this issue will go down well with them. As we produce more issues, we hope to receive more feedback from readers so we can tailor our articles to their interests and environment.

Where can we find out more about Food Matters?

Food Matters is a national charity whose aim is to empower people to take control over decisions that are made which affect their lives and food system by supporting them to develop skills, knowledge and confidence.

You can find out more about Food Matters here on their website, Twitter and Facebook pages.